Lately I've gotten a whole bunch of emails from readers who are starting their own blogs and are looking for advice (here's one; another is coming up shortly). If you're a blogger and have anything to add, please do so in the comments! Would love to hear your thoughts.
Q. I recently started a blog of my own and I was just wondering if you had any general advice about the do's and don'ts of blogging. Also, any advice about how to get your your name/site out there and increase your readership?
A. Hi Lauren!
Congrats on starting your own blog. I checked it out, and you're doing a great job of being personal while still providing readers with information they can use. That's my number-one tip: it's rare that I put up a post that doesn't contain at least some take-home content - not just "here I am eating a bagel," but "here I am eating a bagel, here's a list of the best bagel shops in the city, and here are some original topping ideas." You get the picture. The fact that you're doing that already means you're off to a great start!
- Put up something (at least one post) every single day. I know that seems like a lot, but once you get used to it you start finding inspiration everywhere you look, and it becomes not only easy...but fun.
- Comment on other blogger's sites, and start trying to build a community of Internet buddies. You might want to consider switching over to (or also using) Tumblr; it's just an awesome community. If you like the platform you're using, you can "Tumblrize" your posts (it's a widget that feeds your content directly into Tumblr - that's what I do, since my main platform is Wordpress)...but remember to check your dashboard and re-blog and comment on other people's sites too.
- Reach out to bloggers you like and offer to write guest posts for them. It's best if you can throw out a couple of ideas in that initial email, to show that you have a handle on the feel of the site. And don't be hurt if they say no - some bloggers just don't do the guest posting thing (although I think you'd be surprised by how many do).
- Make your site pretty to look at and nicely organized (not too cluttered!), and take care with regards to things like grammar. Typos happen - I certainly make them - but there's a difference between an occasional error and flat-out laziness...and if a blogger can't take the time to edit their work, why should I take the time to read it? Sounds harsh, but I know a lot of people feel similarly.
- Cite your sources (whenever I use an image that I found elsewhere I write "Image via" with a link at the bottom of the post; same goes for info I found or discoveries I made on other sites).
- Have an "About Me" and a photo somewhere easily accessible - when I visit a new site, that's often the first thing that I look for, because it's just nice to know who you're "talking" to :).
- Publish photos that could help potential criminals to locate your apartment or house. No posing in front of your apartment with the number (or any identifying info visible), please! Keep in mind that whether you're a blogger or not, this information should be kept off of more "personal" platforms like Facebook, as well - you don't want someone taking an interest in your apartment/stuff because of your blog, and then heading on over to your unprotected Facebook page to find information that you had thought only your friends would be reading. I don't mean to scare you, but of course it's always better to err on the side of safety.
- Put up photos of your friends and family without clearing it with them first; that's a very quick way to create problems in your life. This also goes for personal information, conversation snippits, iPhone chat screengrabs, etc. I'm sure you've seen other bloggers doing this, but that doesn't make it OK: I think that your personal relationships and your family and friends' sense of safety should always take precedence.
- Share very personal information (about yourself or others) without thinking twice, and then twice more. If you want to share about an argument with your boyfriend, that's your prerogative...but remember that you can't control how people (including your boyfriend) respond to it. Which isn't to say don't be brave and don't be open...just go into it knowing that the result may not be what you were hoping for.
Best of luck to you!